We Know "It Could be Worse".

If you didn't see the first post in this...series? {{Is that what I'm calling it?]] Click here to read it first. 

I think that for anyone suffering from ANY sort of illness or struggle, one phrase that is not comforting is the phrase "It could be worse." I even told myself this on occasion, which ended up making me worry even more.

Yeah, we know it could be worse. That's what we're afraid of.

I remember the day very clearly, when I found out my hair was falling out again. That sinking feeling in my stomach and the flood of emotions that returned.

Let's back up a second, here.

BEFORE I HAD KIDS, I was the person that would negatively say {{to myself}} that those who suffered with anxiety, depression or postpartum anxiety and depression simply needed to get over it. "Just stop it. Get over it. You can't do anything about it, so just get over it."

Wow. I cringe even thinking that I had that sort of calloused attitude towards these women.

You honestly have NO IDEA what it is like to have anxiety or depression unless you've experienced it, and let me tell you-- God humbled me in allowing me to experience all of those things.

Something I so flippantly told others [[ in my head ]] to get over was crippling me. I remember just running my fingers through my hair and getting just globs of hair on my hands, suffering from panic attacks, depression, uncontrollable worry about what this meant for me or my kids. Would Malachi or Azlynn end up with alopecia? Would I be bald? Would I have to wear wigs and scarves? Would I lose my eyelashes and eyebrows? Would my husband still find me beautiful?

No, alopecia isn't life threatening, but it. is. hard. I had some "ok" days, and some that were just so, so bad. I felt SO far away from God. I would read his word and BEG for him to show me something-Anything-to make me feel closer to him and to FEEL his comforting arms around me. Sometimes He did, and sometimes I didn't see it until later.

Romans 12:12 "Rejoice in Hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer."

John 16:33 "I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Jon Bloom's quote rang true, "Rest your faith on the Rock of his word, not the sand of your circumstances."

And yet, I still was in this dark, seemingly lonely "place" for several months.

I wrote this the day my second round of alopecia flared up: 10256684_732438003444745_6329268388442279950_o So, this is something that I have definitely debated posting about, but for some reason, I felt a nagging feeling that maybe someone else out there is going through this, and could use some encouragement. It's slightly embarrassing, but I want to encourage people, that if they have this condition, they're not alone. *Get ready for a longish post*

In 2012, on my birthday, I saw a dermatologist in Des Moines (my mom joined me) to get a steroid shot in my head. Yep. In my head. The reason was, I had a very small amount of alopecia areata, which is a bald spot on the back of my head. The hair grew back (very slowly and it was super fine). I used to check it often to make sure I wasn't balding again, but recently quit doing that, as I didn't feel the need to.

After my son, I had a pretty severe case of depression and anxiety, I wasn't sleeping (because HE was never sleeping), I wasn't eating even CLOSE to the amount of food I should have been eating, and I'm sure none of it was even close to quality. Just what I could muster up to eat at the time. The truth is, I simply wasn't hungry. I was also nursing him, which only lasted a whopping 2 months, because my body couldn't produce what he needed. It was almost a blessing for my emotional state to NOT be nursing anymore, as it wasn't good for me OR my little baby by that point. That is what my bald spot was blamed on. My lack of nutrition in my diet, no sleep, a lot of stress and anxiety.

Recently, I have been feeling VERY tired, with no explanation. Thyroid issues run in my family pretty strongly, but I've been tested numerous times in the past with no indication that my thyroid was bad. I eat well, exercise, and get to bed at a good time, but I am NEVER rested.

Some of you know, I don't go to the hair salon often, as I have my OWN license and have "trained" my sister how to do my hair. Yesterday, as she was sectioning my hair off, she gasped and said, "Shawna, you've got bald spots again."

I'm not going to lie...as much as hair doesn't matter in the light of eternity, this came as a blow to the stomach. She took a picture and I immediately started crying. (In fact, I'm a little emotional STILL.) HOW could this be happening again!? It grew back!

As you can see in the photo, the top left is my bald spot, which is much bigger than last time. The bottom picture is the fact that I still have a crazy head of hair, and my bald spot isn't visible yet, and for that, I'm thankful. The picture to the right is a gift from my thoughtful husband who, while I was napping (which I NEVER do..because I just simply don't have the time), grabbed me a Starbucks. :)He knows me too well. :)

So, I had some time to think about this whole stupid situation when I couldn't sleep last night. I came to the conclusions that: a) Hair really doesn't matter b) Am I going to allow this trial to take my focus off of what TODAY is? It's Good Friday. The day where Christ was beaten, bruised and scarred, pierced in the side, all for ME. I drove those nails. I put him there. But Sunday is coming, when He conquered death and is now reigning in heaven. ALIVE. My God is alive and HE CHOSE ME. I could easily allow this to take my focus off of HIM, then that just shows where my heart is--what my idols are. c) I do not want to go back to the dark place of anxiety/depression. I was one of those people that would get almost annoyed when someone claimed postpartum anxiety/depression. God definitely humbled me there. It is a real struggle, and it is dark and scary.

God also brought to my mind Proverbs 31:30, "Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

It's just hair. I'm not dying. It's simply just hair.

Please pray for me, that I would use this trial to make God look as glorious as He is, and that I wouldn't allow Satan to steal my joy. Please pray I DIVE into God's word and saturate my heart with his truths, because that's the only way I'm going to make it through this "trial". And please pray when I have labs drawn that there will be a definitive answer to what the underlying cause of my alopecia areata is.

Most of all, remember what this week is about. Jesus Christ, who took MY place, BUT rose again and IS ALIVE. We serve a RISEN savior. This was a good day.

There were many more days, many not this good. Some days I was "ok" with the thought of losing my hair. Some days it threw me into a panic. Even now, present day, as I sit here and type this, I can't help but run my fingers through my hair and with each strand that falls out, I get a pit in my stomach, my ears get hot, my arms get shaky... Yes, I have 2-3 bald spots. No, my hair isn't falling out as quickly as It did 2 years ago, however, this is my reality. Alopecia is something I may never PERSONALLY have victory over, but I am thankful God knows and he cares for me.

Luke 12:6-7 "Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows."